The impact of Industry 4.0: Q&A with operational excellence leaders

Global leaders and experts attended the TRACC & POMS Conference in Cape Town, South Africa and the TRACC Stage 4 User Conference in Guangzhou, China to share best practices, network, and unpack the challenges and solutions for the manufacturing and supply chain industries in this era of digital disruption. We caught up with some of them and asked them about the impact of Industry 4.0.


How is Industry 4.0 influencing your continuous improvement (CI) journey?

Henry-Peek “I think there’s a lot of hype about Industry 4.0, and I think people are overly concerned about the pace at which change is going to happen. However, I think in certain areas it could have a massive impact in the short term. I went to a Coca-Cola factory the size of one of our bigger plants, and there were only four people in the factory. Now that scares you when you see that. I do think as you develop these things it’s quite tightly entwined with the community in which you operate. We are in South Africa. South Africa has certain social challenges – the biggest one is jobs. If you operate in a way that doesn’t match the needs of the community within which you operate, you won’t have communities to sell to. So I do think in our case that will be important in how we develop this going forward. It will still be done in such a way that it is to the overall benefit of the country we operate in.”

– Henry Peek, Manufacturing and Technical Director, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa



“We’ve had a great deal of success with getting information that’s buried in someone’s computer onto a piece of paper and on a wall where you are forced to look at it; in other words, getting information out of the electronic and into the manual. A person first has to look for the information in the computer, and then they have to write it down – they have to interact with the data. So, in terms of Industry 4.0, it will be interesting to see where we go in terms of visual management and manual interaction with data – I think that’s possibly the biggest challenge, from an operational perspective.

The biggest challenge for leaders will be access to real-time data, and the ability to intervene and make decisions when they really ought not to. So managing the risks is probably bigger than the opportunities. There are so many opportunities now for data analytics which people misuse to prove their point rather than find an actionable issue.

So yes, it has a growing impact. We’re doing a lot of work in that space at the moment. Things change. That’s the whole point. That’s why the headline in Enabling TRACC is ‘Leading and Managing Change’.”

– Julian Scott, Manufacturing Excellence & Best Practice Director, Lion, Australia


Cecil-Everson “We’re also grappling with Industry 4.0 and see it more as an evolution rather than a revolution at this stage – maybe we’ll be proven wrong in a few years’ time. We’re starting to look at what it means to us. But already we’re seeing some progression, especially in automation and things in the factory. But we’re seeing big data coming into demand planning and predictive analytics and maintenance. In the past you’d have strategies and different pillars or themes or elements. But we’ve come so far that digitizing our supply chain is one of our major themes for the next 5 years. And our strategy is to look at how we digitize the full supply chain. So we don’t call it ‘Industry 4.0’, for us it’s just about digitizing our entire supply chain. So it will be in our factories – maybe that means more automation and ways of working. It will be in planning, procurement and logistics as well – how does digitization impact all these areas?”

– Cecil Everson, Head of Manufacturing – Africa, Distell


What advice do you have when it comes to Industry 4.0?


“My advice around Industry 4.0 is don’t get fixated on the name. At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is make production lines or your business more efficient. I think 4.0 means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I would focus on trying to make your line more efficient. Once you’ve identified the problems and challenges that you have on your production line or in your business, the next step is to try and understand what technologies there are to help you make that production line or business more efficient – rather than identifying technologies and then trying to find ways to use it.”


– Yanesh Naidoo, Sales and Design Director, Jendamark


Willem de Wolf

“Well to get to 4.0, it’s good to know where you’re at today. And I think companies, and our clients at least, are at various stages. Some have been advancing very nicely and some are a little less advanced. I think what is generally true is that there is a lot of data available in various databases within these companies, and getting value from these databases is really a challenge for many of the companies that we serve. This is firstly because value needs a definition: What are you after; what are you trying to get from the data? But also connecting the data: Various databases are very functional, so connecting these databases is a challenge. And I guess the last one is that you have the capabilities to make something out of the data and truly find the value in that data – which needs some expertise. So I think if companies actually start using this data, they will generate more value and more cash. And through this cash, they can develop in more advanced technology in order to get closer to 4.0. I’m convinced it’s quite a journey for most companies but, step-by-step, I think you will get there by working your way towards and taking value from each step you take.”

– Aart Willem de Wolf, Managing Partner, R&G Global Consultants


How do you think TRACC will support clients in navigating Industry 4.0?

Geoff-Schreiner “Yes, I think this is a tough one for many of our clients. 4.0 is coming fast and furiously, as we all know. There are two things: I think the first thing is a road map. One does need to develop an understanding of what’s out there in terms of technologies and what the technologies can do, and which technologies have application to your business. The second thing is not to try and do everything at once, but to select pilot projects with appropriate technologies that will bring real value to your business. So we’ve advocated an approach in TRACC Stage 2 where one builds the understanding and the awareness of what Industry 4.0 means, and then in Stage 3, one undertakes pilot projects with appropriate technologies that are going to bring appropriate value to the business.”

– Geoff Schreiner, CCi Products Director, South Africa



“Just like the old transaction systems and ERP systems of the past which were implemented without sufficient thought and without taking into account the wastages in the processes, they would not be successful. So, in the same way, if we don’t build capability to such a point that technology can be adopted and adapted in a meaningful way, the Industry 4.0 that is looming will be difficult for companies to implement. So what TRACC does is it builds the capability to face the challenges of Industry 4.0.”


– Dino Petrarolo, CCi Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific



“So with Industry 4.0, there’s an enormous amount of hype around the technology that is needed in factories and supply chains. But around that technology, you really need a framework for ways of working on the practices that can help you get the most benefit out of that technology. So I think particularly as the world of work changes with Industry 4.0, as specific ways of working change – and it affects operators on lines and managers as they work in different ways – there needs to be a framework in which they can use that technology to apply learning. So, for example, if we look at something like problem-solving, we need to have a well-established structure for problem-solving that can leverage the benefits that you get from big data, from analytics and from other tools that are available in Industry 4.0. TRACC provides that framework of practices and way of working that can be overlaid with the technology tools and benefits of Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence and big data.”

– Ed Koch, Former Global Director of Supply Chain Development, SABMiller